Tag Archives: spinach

Spinach and Ricotta lasagna roll ups with Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Sauce

28 Oct

So, about the title. Ya, that is a mouthful and a half. However, I feel like it all needs to be outlined in the recipe title, because you don’t want to forget critical bits of information. Like the spinach. The fact that it’s not layered lasagna, but lasagna ROLLS. And that there is a sauce of squash, not tomatoes. Oh, and it has roasted garlic in it. One cannot forget about the garlic.

I originally saw this post over at Skinny Taste and thought wow, what an awesome way to get some more veggies into a meal and I happened to have some butternut squash on hand.  It was meant to be. Now, obviously I adapted this recipe so it didn’t turn out quite as healthy and lower fat as hers, but it’s pretty damn amazing. I always use full fat cheeses, and freshly shred my own. Why you ask? Because I don’t like that they have to do something to take the fat out of a food. Plus, the flavor is so much richer with a full fat cheese. Why shred your own cheese? That way I don’t get an extra helping of cellulose fibers (what they use in pre-shredded cheeses to keep them from sticking). It doesn’t take a huge amount of extra time to bust out the box grater and shred some cheese for a recipe.

Since there is some extra prep work to this recipe with the roasting of the squash and garlic, I like to roast the squash/garlic over the weekend and puree the sauce so that this can be a quickly assembled weeknight meal.

If you end up without enough cooking liquid left over after you roast your squash, add in some chicken stock until it reaches your desired consistency. Mine turned out kind of like pumpkin pie mix prior to adding the milk, but after the eggs and sugars are added if that helps to give you a visual. You could totally go thinner if you like, but I wanted it to be a bit thicker.

The flavors of this recipe really work well together, and all the fiber you get from the squash really helps make it a filling dish. I will certainly be making this one again. It was worth the effort of roasting my squash, and the roasted garlic gives the sauce a nice depth of flavor that you just wouldn’t have if it wasn’t part of the recipe.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do! The photos below do not do it justice. Seriously. Just make it. The hubs only gripe? No meat. So leftovers will be provided with some turkey meatballs. Because they are good too.

squash roll done

Spinach & Ricotta Lasagna Rolls with Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce

Adapted from Skinny Taste

Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Sauce Ingredients: 

2lb butternut squash, cut in half with seeds removed

1 head garlic, top cut off

¼ cup parmesan cheese

Salt & pepper to taste
Lasagna Roll ingredients:
9 lasagna noodles, cooked and cool enough to touch

1 ½ cups frozen spinach, thawed and drained

30oz ricotta cheese

1/2 cup shredded extra sharp white cheddar cheese

1 egg

½ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

¼ cup freeze dried chives

¼ cup parmesan cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste
Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a shallow baking sheet, place your butternut squash halves skin side up. Add 1- ½ cups water to the pan and put in oven. Roast for 40 minutes, or until fork tender.

While your squash is roasting, put your head of garlic in a small oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt. Place in the oven with the squash and check on at 20 minutes. Garlic should be fork tender, with the tops of the cloves nice and brown.

Once your squash is cooked and your garlic roasted, let cool enough to handle. Scoop out the flesh from the squash and squeeze roasted garlic cloves into a medium mixing bowl. With an immersion blender, blend until the mixture is smooth. Add in the cooking liquid from your baking sheet, stirring to combine until the mixture resembles a very thick sauce. Stir in parmesan cheese, and season with salt & pepper to your liking. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, spoon a thin layer of the squash sauce, setting the remainder of the sauce aside.

In another clean mixing bowl, add in all of the lasagna roll ingredients, with the exception of the noodles. Stir until combined.

squash roll pre assembly

Lasagna roll assembly:

Lay out a piece of waxed paper to keep noodles from sticking to the counter. Add a layer of the ricotta mixture to the center of the noodle, leaving 1 inch of the noodle end free of the ricotta mixture.

squash roll ricotta mix

 

Roll noodle up and place seam side down into your baking dish. Continue until all noodles are filled.

squash roll sauce

Top noodles with the remainder of the squash sauce, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and cover your pan with foil. Bake in your 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.

Serve immediately, along with some crusty bread and nice big salad.

Quick Dinner – Spinach & Feta Chicken Burgers

29 Apr

We are getting to that time of year when things start to get busier at our house. I’m sure we aren’t the only ones either. Outdoor chores like weeding the flower beds, mowing the grass and planting the garden come into play. With warmer weather also comes more outdoor activities – motorcycle rides, outdoor parties, weddings, graduation parties, camping, bicycle rides. That means less time spent at home, which translates to quick dinner options on the weekdays. I don’t want to be stressing about what to make for dinner, or punk out and make something that is quick, but completely unhealthy. Since I am on the path to healthier eating, I’ve been thinking up meal options that can be whipped up in 30 minutes or less, but are healthy, filling, and taste great. These burgers fit that bill. You get a burst of nutrient rich veggies from the spinach mixed into the burger, plus the addition of using more baby spinach in place of lettuce. The chicken is packed with protein but lower in fat than your traditional beef options, and frankly more flavorful than ground turkey. The feta cheese adds some dairy, and eliminates the need for additional salt since it helps flavor the meat. I used olive oil mayo that I spiced up with some wasabi sauce, giving the burger a little zing. It complimented the burger very well! Ciabatta rolls were a lovely change of pace from traditional burger buns, and could actually be skipped completely if you are looking to limit your intake of carbs, serving it over a bed of baby spinach with a little smear of the wasabi mayo. We enjoyed these with a large serving of garden salad, and it was delicious!

spinach & feta chicken burgers

Spinach & Feta Chicken Burgers

makes 4  1/4lb burgers 

1lb ground chicken

4oz feta cheese crumbles

1 1/2 cups baby spinach, torn into smaller pieces

1 small shallot, minced

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all of your ingredients in a bowl, and form into 4 1/4lb burger patties. Pan fry – no additional oil – or grill until cooked all the way through, 10-15 minutes. Serve on toasted ciabatta bread with baby spinach and wasabi mayo. Serve with a garden salad for a light and healthy dinner! Also great for lunch!

Healthy Meal Idea – Spinach & Bacon with White Beans

22 Apr

I’ve been on a blog hiatus recently. Not because I’ve been overly busy or anything. More like I’ve been trying to enjoy the lovely weather when it comes about. Catching up on some spring cleaning chores like cleaning out the chicken coop and run. Trying out new recipes, and revisiting old ones. I am always on a mission for easy, healthy, simple and QUICK meal ideas. Have you ever noticed that most of the easy meals tend to be unhealthy because you are either eating a premade meal made who knows when, preckaged stuff that has so many preservatives you feel almost pickled after, or it’s laden with fat to compensate for flavor? Blech. Enter in the Spinach & Bacon with White Beans. It’s fast. It’s tasty. It’s healthy. It’s LOW FAT. Even with the butter and bacon. Ya, that’s right. But it’s REAL butter. Not margarine. Not anything that’s 1 step away from being plastic. If you are going to ingest a fat, make it a natural one. BUTTER people. BUTTER. Say it with me….BUTTER. End rant.

Anyways, back to this meal. It’s filling. Because of the beans. That’s a lot of fiber. Good for you, keep you full fiber. It was delicious. No added salt or pepper was needed. I used precooked bacon because it’s quick, and it’s lower in fat and calories, and we always have some on hand. Don’t feel like you HAVE to. Don’t feel like you have to use bacon either – you could use some chopped country ham, prosciutto, salami. Whatever. And you can mix up the greens too – collard greens, mustard greens, kale. I just had a big ass container of spinach, which I happen to love, and wanted to use it up. Boy, I’m glad I whipped this up. I think hubs wished I made a double batch. He wanted more. So, I guess I should say this would serve 2 as a lunch sized portion. Double the recipe if you’ve got a big meal eating man in your life. Next time I make it I think I’ll cook up an egg over easy and top the greens & beans with that. And a little parmesan. Wow. I want that right now.

Spinach & Bacon with White Beans

Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a meal

Ingredients

1 pound fresh organic baby spinach

6 garlic cloves, minced

8 pieces pre cooked bacon, chopped

2 cans Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon REAL butter

shaved parmesan

Add butter to a large skillet, letting melt. Add in your garlic and bacon, cooking until bacon is crisp and garlic is starting to get a little crispy looking – about 3 minutes. Add your beans, tossing to coat with the bacon garlic butter mix. Keep tossing until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add your spinach, in batches if necessary, stirring the mixture around to let the spinach wilt and cook through.

Serve immediately, and sprinkle with some shaved parmesan cheese for an extra hit of flavor!

Boring lunch fix! Spinach & Cheese Toasts!

19 Feb

I’m in a slump. A winter time lunch slump. I also think I’m, for lack of a better term, bored. I hate the word bored, but I’ve been finding things for myself to do. On a whim I colored my whole brunette head a bright red. Because I finally found a shade of red that said HEY! PICK ME! You’ll look fabulous!!! I love it.

red head girl

But back to the lunch slump….I’m trying to avoid eating overprocessed deli meats….and to be honest I’ve burned out a little from sandwiches. Remove the deli meats and you are left with a cheese sandwich, pb & j, tuna or chicken salad…you see where I’m going. BORING. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some pb & j, especially when the J is homemade strawberry jam. But, well, it’s still boring. Monday – Friday, I’m a working stiff and I have got to eat lunch. My coworkers do not deserve to be subjected to me being hangry.  On the weekends, it’s not a requirement for me to eat lunch since I usually whip up a substantial breakfast. But I’ve certainly got a better set up at home for making a meal than I do at work. At work, we’ve got a toaster, fridge, and microwave. That limits my lunch choices. Since I’m trying to eat healthier, incorporate more veggies, and really stick to eating whole grain products as much as I can, the Spinach & Cheese Toasts lunch was born! It’s a pretty simple set up – whole grain bread, baby spinach, cheese & pepper. Yep. That’s it. And damn…it’s GOOD! I’m getting some veggies into the meal, the whole grain (whole grain as in I can SEE the grains. Not “whole grain” where everything is milled into a fine dust of submission) helps keep me full, and the cheese makes me feel like I’m eating something bad for me, but I’m getting a serving of dairy. To round this out a little and make it feel more like a meal, I have some marinated mushrooms along side it. Next up, I’m going to quick pickle some shrimp and have those with it for an added boost of protein and yummy, citrus laden refreshing flavor! (yes, I’ll post the recipe if my quick pickling tastes yummy like I envision it will!)

spinach & cheese toasts

So, here’s the “recipe”

2 slices whole grain, crusty bread – toasted

1/2 cup baby spinach

2 slices good deli cheese or enough slices of block cheese to cover 2 slices of bread

Put a layer of spinach on each piece of toast, topping with your cheese and a sprinkling of pepper. For optimum results, place under a broiler for a few minutes to get the cheese nice and melty, wilting the spinach a little. If you are limited and only have a microwave, zap is for 45 seconds to melt the cheese. Enjoy!

Supper Time: Chicken Meatball Soup with Spinach and Pasta

3 Jan

Holy balls it’s cold out today. 8 degrees when I woke up. The kind of cold that freezes the snot in your nose when you breathe in and makes your eyes water. Winter has landed. Happy New Year from Mother Nature. Yowza.

What warms the bones on a frigid cold day like today?  Homemade soup. MMM soup. Filling, hearty, and this one is quick and easy and fairly healthy with the pile of spinach and the chicken starring as the meat for this dish. Because it’s January of a new year and we know that everyone will be gung ho for the next month trying to stick to their resolution of dieting and losing weight. Me, I’m just glad the holiday binge eating is over and I can get back to eating like a normal person. (Normal meaning that cookies are not part of my daily meal plan, and I can eat meals AT HOME instead of running around all over creation visiting…and grazing…on other peoples food) This is kind of like a lazy version of wedding soup. But it’s still just as good. Add more spinach to the soup if you like to. Double the meatball recipe. Substitute collard greens or kale for the spinach. Whatever tickles your fancy. It’s adaptable. It’s dinner, from scratch and on the table in under an hour – that includes making the meatballs! How awesome is that??? It’s even better the next day, once the noodles and the meatballs have soaked up more of the broth. Make this. Your tummy will thank you. Seriously. It will say “mmm…thanks”.

Chicken Meatball Soup with Spinach and Pasta
1 lb package pasta – whatever shape you want
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, very finely chopped
2-3 32oz cartons chicken broth (depending on how brothy you want your soup. The orzo will soak up broth)
Chicken meatballs (1 pound ground chicken mixed with 1/4 cup bread crumbs, 1/4 cup ricotta cheese, 3tbsp chives, 1/2tsp garlic salt and then rolled into 1in balls)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
One 5-ounce bag baby spinach (I add 2 bags. we like a lot of spinach)
1-2 eggs, whisked to combine

In a large pot add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
Add the chicken meatballs and cook in the simmering broth for 10 minutes. Add the garlic to the chicken broth, then add your pasta and cook to package directions. Right before the pasta is al dente, add the whisked eggs stirring with the whisk to create egg threads.
Turn off burner and remove pot from heat. Add the baby spinach and stir, until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Ladle the meatball-and-pasta soup into shallow bowls, top with shaved parmesan and serve.

*I add some more ricotta to the broth once the soup is done to give it a creamy flavor, about 1/2 cup. You don’t have to do this.

Trying new things: Cheesy Veggie Quinoa Bites

1 Oct

I try not to snub my nose at any foods unless I have tried them and KNOW with certainty that I don’t like them, as long as they smell appealing to  me and don’t contain any visible organ, lip or ass meat – hot dogs and bologna DO NOT count. I’ve been hearing about quinoa for at the very least, this past year. I’ve wanted to try it, but until recent months availability has been an issue. I didn’t want to have to special order a food item that could very well turn into a food staple in our house, which I thought this had the possibility of becoming. I picked some up at the local grocery recently and cooked it with just some sautéed onions and had it for dinner topped with eggplant, garlic, and more onions. It was fantastic. Cooked like you would rice, but with a slightly nutty flavor and it actually kept you full instead of hungry an hour later like rice. Hubs even liked it.

Enter in my sister-in-law and her attempt at a gluten-free lifestyle. I wanted to make an appetizer for a get-together she was having that she would actually be able to eat. Add in the fact that I’m on a newly started diet – not dieting where you only eat certain foods, more of a watching calories and trying to make healthier choices kind of thing – so I wanted something appetizer like without it being fried or laden with fats or mayo. I had a big fresh bag of quinoa and had seen recipes floating around where you use the grains to create an appetizer of some sort.

I stumbled upon Cheese and Vegetable Quinoa bites over at The Curvy Carrot. Sold.

With a few adaptations, I made it mine, gluten-free, and made enough to freeze some! Score. Hubs was digging this one too. Eating them kind of like they were potato chips. But with less guilt.

Cheesy Veggie Quinoa Bites

adapted from The Curvy Carrot

Makes 24 discs or “muffins”

Ingredients

2 cups quinoa, cooked to package directions

2 eggs – I used 3 since they were small fresh eggs

1/3 cup store-bought shredded carrot, microwaved to soften 60 seconds

1 ½ cups chopped baby spinach, fresh not frozen

1 shallot chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup Colby Jack cheese, freshly shredded

2 tablespoons cornmeal

kosher salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray 2 – 12 count muffin pans. Add all ingredients but the cheese to a large bowl until combined. Add cheese and stir to distribute evenly through mixture.

Using a spoon or cookie scoop, fill muffin cups until 3/4 of the way full, pressing mixture down into pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until crispy and set. Remove from muffin pans and serve immediately.

You can reheat these for 10 minutes until warm. For freezing, let cool completely and place in freezer safe container or bags. To serve from frozen, let thaw overnight. Reheat under broiler for 5-10 minutes until tops are crispy and rounds are heated through.

Hearty meal idea – Spinach and Ricotta Quiche with Savory Chive Crust

24 Sep

Breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, you can’t go wrong with Quiche. It can be a hearty and filling meal addition. For breakfast or brunch, it’s great served with some fruit and a few slices of bacon. Add a salad and you have a lunch or dinner option.

With our chickens laying between 4-7 eggs (plus the duck laying almost every day too!), we are ending up with a huge vast amount of eggs – as of this morning, we have 52 eggs – before todays offering from the ladies. For a household of 2, even with our love of eggs, that’s a lot to eat up. What better way to use up some of that egg surplus than quiche! You COULD make this a crustless version (just skip the part about the crust and follow the balance of the directions) but it’s pretty tasty so I don’t know WHY would actually WANT to.

I whipped this up over the weekend so that I could have something tasty to heat up for breakfast during the work week. This would also do well in the freezer to save for when you have unexpected breakfast guests or need something to take to a pot luck. Just partially bake it (in an aluminum pan, you do not want to use ceramic as the frozen to hot oven will most likely break your dish)- 20 minutes in the 375 degree oven, remove and let cool to room temp. Freeze with a double layer of saran. To finish cooking, remove from the freezer and place in your preheated 375 degree oven, cooking for 30-40 minutes until center is set.

Spinach and Ricotta Quiche with Savory Chive Crust

serves 6

Seasoned with Sarcasm Original

1 Chive Pate Brisee (recipe below)

2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid

1/2 cup milk

1 cup ricotta cheese

4 eggs

3/4 cup freshly chopped cheddar cheese

kosher salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray your 9″ pie pan with non stick cooking spray. Roll out your Chive Pate Brisee and place in your prepared pie plate. Press down the edges and trip off any excess crust. I did a rough edge for my Quiche, but you can pretty yours up if you like. Puncture the base of the crust with a fork.

Add your spinach to your crust, distributing evenly. Sprinkle the spinach with your chopped cheddar cheese.

In a small bowl, add your eggs, milk and ricotta cheese, whisking to combine. Pour your egg mixture over the spinach & cheese. Season with kosher salt & pepper.

Place your Quiche into your preheated oven, cooking for 40-45 minutes, until center is only slightly jiggly.

Remove from oven and let sit for 10 -15 minutes to finish setting the Quiche. Serve hot. Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

Chive Pate Brisee

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Yield: 1 pie crust for single 9″ pie

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chives – fresh or dehydrated
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 stick butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, more if needed

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt and chives, pulsing a few times to combine. Drop your cubes of butter into the flour mixture, and pulse until the dough resembles a dry coarse crumb.

Turn your food processor on and slowly add the ice water through the feed tube in a steady stream just until the mixture starts to come together. If dough appears to still be crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn dough out onto a piece of saran wrap, press together into a flat disc and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. You can also freeze the dough, double wrapping in saran.

Bake according to directions for your recipe.